How to Incorporate Physical Activities Into Your Meetings

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Surf Break
An innovative "surf break" at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, suits a wide range of fitness levels and abilities. // © The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

When you start to encourage your meeting attendees to step outside their comfort zones — whether literally or emotionally — it’s always important to keep issues of privacy, comfort, and safety in mind, too. Tonya Ridgeway, project coordinator at the Greenbrier Clinic in White Sulphur Springs, WV, says that any on-site medical procedure results performed through her clinic are always kept 100-percent confidential. 

And at any event that is physically challenging, Canton, MA-based Reebok Event Marketing Managers Colleen Cosgrove and Matt Powell make sure that an emergency medical team is always on site, and have multiple staff to ensure that each participant is OK. They’re also adamant about not forcing attendees to do something they may not be physically comfortable doing. “It’s always about keeping the activity fun and scalable,” says Cosgrove. “Not everyone is a fitness fanatic nor should they be; everyone has different interests, so you should always give people different options to choose from.” 

In March 2013, Reebok hosted an internal launch event at The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, FL, that featured a somewhat scaled-down version of an intense obstacle race course, popularly known as the Spartan Race. While a majority of employees participated, some employees who opted not to do the Spartan Race still got to participate in the post-race celebration, and many were just as instrumental by cheering on their colleagues during the actual race.

Iconic Adventures Director of Business Development Eli Campbell says that providing “outs” or less physically challenging alternatives is always built into the itineraries for meeting groups, too. This was the case during a recent 11-mile hike that his Steamboat Springs, CO-based organized for a corporate group. Participants who knew that they were unlikely to finish the 11-mile hike were invited to do a separate drive during the last half of the hike, reuniting with the rest of their colleagues at the end point of the hike. 

At The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in Dana Point, CA, meeting attendees can learn how to “surf” with a unique Surf Break without ever having to don a wetsuit, and accommodating a variety of fitness levels. The hotel, which sits some 150 feet above one of Southern California’s best surf spots, gives meeting attendees a unique opportunity to “surf” on land during their quick meeting breaks. Using surf-inspired skateboards that give you the feeling of riding on an ocean wave, professional instructors teach attendees how to surf within a 15-minute or 30-minute session. While the activity can be done on property with accompanying food and beverage, the hotel can also develop it into an off-site teambuilding experience at the nearby Doheny State Park.

And for groups that really do want to be out on the water, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, and many other coastal properties such as the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach (just north, up the coast) also provide group activities that include stand-up paddleboarding, a unique, easy-to-learn activity that’s caught on across the country.